It is no secret that the U.S. Congress continues to struggle with bipartisanship. Tensions between both Republicans and Democrats reached an all-time high on Monday, March 9th when it was revealed that 47 out of the 54 incumbent GOP Senators signed and delivered a letter to the Iranian government that some believe was meant to interfere with the nuclear negotiations between the Islamic state and the United States.
The letter, masterminded and written by Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, warned the Iranian government that any deal made between the U.S. government and Iran regarding nuclear policy could be overturned as soon as President Barack Obama’s term ends at the start of 2017. Since the discovery of this letter, the Obama Administration and Democratic Party have been outraged, viewing the letter as an attempt to sabotage diplomacy.
“Iran’s leaders needed to hear the message loud and clear,” Cotton commented on CBS’s Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer. Cotton further stated that the intentions of letter were meant to address how Obama and Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, were immediately taking the negotiations to the United Nations without Congress first voting on the deal before it goes to the UN. “While the President negotiates deals, Congress has to approve them for them to be lasting and binding.”
Two days after letter was sent, 160,000 people signed a petition for the Obama Administration to carry out federal charges against the 47 senators for allegedly violating the Logan Act. The 1799 law states that it is illegal for any unauthorized citizens to negotiate with foreign governments. Currently, the petition has 319,231 signatures. The petition, as quoted from whitehouse.gov, states that “Violation of the Logan Act is a felony, punishable under federal law with imprisonment of up to three years.”
In further detail, the law also states:
“Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
“This section shall not abridge the right of a citizen to apply, himself or his agent, to any foreign government or the agents thereof for redress of any injury which he may have sustained from such government or any of its agents or subjects.”
Professor of Constitutional Law, Jerome Barron, from George Washington University is an individual who doesn’t believe the letter is treasonous and is no doubt familar with the Logan Act.
“They would make the argument the Logan Act doesn’t apply because they are one of the three branches of government and although the they don’t have the major role of foreign relations, they do, after all, as the senate, confirm treaties,” Barron told ABC News. “It’s true this is an executive agreement, but they [the Senate] have some role I suppose. I don’t think they’re in violation of the Logan Act.”
Among the list of Senators who agreed to sign the letter are the likes of GOP standouts Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
“The President is about to make what we believe is a very bad deal. He clearly doesn’t want Congress involved at all. And we’re worried about it,”Senator McConnell told CNN on the “State of the Union” show.
“At this point I think that with negociations ending today, it’s really up to Secretary John Kerry to see what becomes of any negociation at the end of the day,” WCSU student and SGA Senator John Board when asked about his opinion on the matter.
As if the petition wasn’t enough, the 47 GOP senators have also managed to gain notoriety on social under the Twitter hashtag, “#47traitors,” for the past month with tweets from vocal Democrats expressing their distaste on the whole situation.